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Congress working to plug intelligence leaks

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America's lack of an ability to 'keep a secret' will hurt the US' international relations says Congress It is unusual in the United States for Democrats and Republicans politicians to agree on something but, when it comes to leaked intelligence involving US national security, both sides say it is a problem that is getting worse.

The Democrat and Republican leaders of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees appeared before reporters on Thursday to call for an investigation into why there have been so many security leaks of highly sensitive, classified US intelligence.

On Capitol Hill, Republican senator Saxby Chambliss said: "All of us are extremely upset that not only have leaks occurred, but there's been just a cascade of leaks coming out of the intelligence community. It's our clear intention to put a stop to this."

US politicians have been outraged by recent reports that the White House provided Hollywood filmmakers with sensitive details surrounding the operation that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

They are also reportedly furious with a newspaper article published last week in the New York Times, which exposed the US is using cyber-weapons to target Iran's nuclear enrichment activities.

A further article published in the same newspaper had reported that US President Barack Obama personally approved a secret 'Kill List' in advance of CIA drone attacks, has also upset the Congressional politicians.

"It's not just an isolated incident," said Republican Congressman Mike Rogers, "it seems to be a pattern that is growing worse and more frequent and the severity of the leaks is serious."

On Wednesday, Republican Senator John McCain accused the White House of releasing the classified information to reporters to highlight President Barack Obama’s national security accomplishments in an election year.

It is an allegation the White House Press Secretary Jay Carney denies.

On Wednesday Carney called the claims "grossly irresponsible." He said he rejected any notion the White House is leaking classified information to boost the president’s re-election chances.

Still, the Congressional legislators say they will pursue the source of the sensitive information that has now been made public. They report they are currently drafting legislation to limit who can access classified information, as well as a means for imposing penalties against those who leak it.

Democrat senator Dianne Feinstein says the current system is not working: "The security aspects of the existing agencies haven’t really done the job and we need to find out why."

The Congressional group is promising to work quickly. They told reporters they are concerned America's lack of an ability to "keep a secret" will hurt US relations within the international community and costs lives.

Dutch Ruppersberger, a Democrat congressman, told reporters, "it puts us at risk, it puts lives at risk, and it hurts our ability with our allies to have them work with us."


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